Importance of lineage/ what is transmitted / etc etc

Discussion of Zen Buddhism, Soto Zen, Rinzai Zen, Chan, Seon and Thien.

Moderator: Spiritual Do-gooder

Post Reply
User avatar
Dan74
Site Admin
Posts: 603
Joined: Thu Nov 16, 2017 9:49 am
Location: Lyss, Switzerland

Importance of lineage/ what is transmitted / etc etc

Post by Dan74 » Sat Sep 01, 2018 11:56 am

Over at DW (again), there is a thread on lineage in Zen that so far has no contributions from the teachers.

https://dharmawheel.net/viewtopic.php?f=66&t=29341

I am very doubtful if those of us who are not part of a lineage in the sense of being transmitted, are qualified to answer, but I still gave my 2c, based on theory, little knowledge and maybe some common sense.


The short of it is that while there are of course many dangers and drawbacks around Zen mythology, in our typical Western hubris, we tend to throw the baby out with the bathwater. Lineage charts may have been fabricated at some point, I don't know, though I don't necessarily trust the scholars 100%, more likely reconstructed from oral histories, sometimes less than perfectly. But having a lineage system in place, with a close relationship between a master and student, is the best guarantee to pass down the Lamp, and not only in Zen, AFAICT. What is its significance? It is a system for preserving the teachings and methods of the school, and yes, that Original Nature, hopefully too somewhere there..

What do you folks say?

User avatar
fuki
Posts: 1723
Joined: Fri Dec 01, 2017 12:02 am
Location: Zandvoort, The Netherlands

Re: Importance of lineage/ what is transmitted / etc etc

Post by fuki » Sat Sep 01, 2018 12:13 pm

I can't view the topic and thus your respons without being logged in, Dan.

Anyways, lineages have a function, it's not my cookie but I understand it from a functional point within a tradition. In my view we are in transition and the "old way" of lineages and teacher/student model will die out once the collective shift of human consciousness is ready for the next era, but that doesn't mean I'm either for or against it. Meido said some good things about it on zenspace before, also on the radio (youtube) interview I believe. If lineages continue because a student equals or surpasses the teacher great, but if lineages are uphold while the succesor isn't qualified and the lineage is upheld due to ulterior motives (name your poision) well yes, it's sad to me. That's the man made religious pest which isn't my cookie.
meldpunt seksueel misbruik in boeddhistische gemeenschappen.
https://meldpuntbg.nl/

IZIhttp://www.zeninstitute.org/en/iziae/main.html

User avatar
desert_woodworker
Posts: 958
Joined: Fri Nov 10, 2017 12:20 am
Location: Southern Arizona desert, USA

Re: Importance of lineage/ what is transmitted / etc etc

Post by desert_woodworker » Sat Sep 01, 2018 11:46 pm

Dan, et al.,

I haven't looked across sites, but I have a gloss on lineage(s):

If one awakens through the efforts and care and compassion of a truly compassionate Teacher, one knows that in the awakening something is transmitted, the holdings and wisdom of the lineage. One cannot say too much about this, but, one must be sure not to say too much.

Yet, ...I think it's fine to take this far back into the past of Humans:

In the far distant past, "we" lived in small groups. Someone was the "Elder" of the group, and held the wisdom, history, and ways of the group or clan. Some of this is/was intangible. Before the advent of writing and even presumably before the advent of much spoken language, the only way to pass things "down" (along... ) was (to be sure), "mind-to-mind". It's got to go to someone, lest it be lost.

This still operates despite Language and despite Writing, which are not great pollutions after all. But we say that in order for it to operate, it requires "practice", and, moreover, practice of the correct type and intensity, guided by a true adept and "lineage-holder". And, I think that's right: without the latter, we do not have the situation as was had 150000 years ago.

When the awakening is genuine, intangible material is transmitted and realized: the Wisdom and ways of the clan, of the lineage.

As Jundo Roshi urged us here, I will do well to be sure to say, "I may be wrong about this."

But, I'm not, as far as I'm concerned. Nah, nah, nah.

Strong practice!,

--Joe

User avatar
KeithA
Posts: 278
Joined: Wed Nov 01, 2017 11:19 am

Re: Importance of lineage/ what is transmitted / etc etc

Post by KeithA » Sat Sep 01, 2018 11:55 pm

Dan wrote:
...some common sense.
Honestly, this is the thing that seems lacking whenever this topic comes up.

There is a lineage chart hanging up at the Providence ZC, the international head temple of the Kwan Um School of Zen. I doubt it is historically correct.

Still gonna practice, tho! :106:

_/|\_
Keith
You make, you get.

New Haven Zen Center

User avatar
Emmet
Posts: 21
Joined: Thu Mar 29, 2018 12:35 pm
Location: Hayesville, NC

Re: Importance of lineage/ what is transmitted / etc etc

Post by Emmet » Sun Sep 02, 2018 12:27 pm

When I don my robes, or just my rakuzu, I'm acutely aware that I am donning the same robes (figuratively, of course) as my teacher, and his teacher, and his teacher before him, and in a metaphorical sense, of all of those, male and female, known and unknown, who down through history out of great compassion have turned the Wheel on my behalf; all the way back to Shakyamuni Buddha himself. Wearing it, I will unfold the Buddha's teachings for all sentient beings.
While I'm aware of the fabled provenance of the kesa, I don't demand rigorous historical accuracy of the story; I recognize and accept it as allegory. By the same token, when I read in a sutra of a gigantic stupa erupting from the earth containing the reanimated body of a dead Buddha and flying into the sky, I don't start wondering about mass, weight, velocity, and thrust; it's entirely missing the point. I've not personally seen the need to vet each and every name in our lineage; undoubtedly some may be apocryphal, and some mysteriously absent. I've sat on the board of a Zen Center for five years, and have seen at least a glimpse on a microcosmic scale of just how Machiavellian internecine squabbles can be; I can but imagine what they must have been like in the great temples of Chan and Zen. Literally or metaphorically, my lineage connects me to a living, breathing tradition that continues today. The absolute historical accuracy of the official roster is of little interest to me. The special transmission outside of the scriptures is as Hakuin said beyond clever words.

Any discussion of lineage and transmission should also take into account what happens in their absence; when anyone can unilaterally hang out a shingle declaring themselves a "zen master."
Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh.

User avatar
Anders
Posts: 95
Joined: Tue Dec 05, 2017 8:28 pm

Re: Importance of lineage/ what is transmitted / etc etc

Post by Anders » Sun Sep 02, 2018 5:36 pm

I see Bodhidharma's tenets as fairly foundational to Zen and not that hard to boil down to plain words:

Having a realised teacher who can point directly to your mind without relying on words and concepts is a special method that is most likely going to be a lot more effective for your practise than not having it.

I don't see it as an exclusive method, but it is a defining one for Zen Buddhism and essentially what Zen Buddhism has always boiled down to. Which is why it is a tradition that talks about family lineages, transmission and turning words and has so much reverence for encounter dialogues between teacher and student that it even became a distinctive type of literature and basis of practise - It all basically boils down to a family lineage of awakened masters enacting their embodied wisdom to help their students break through and then mature.

The written part of Zen Buddhism is, to me, "just" a more down-to-earth restatement of classical Mahayana Buddhism. Which is in itself a profound topic of course, but not the quite the heart of the matter.

Aka spike

Re: Importance of lineage/ what is transmitted / etc etc

Post by Aka spike » Sun Sep 02, 2018 5:40 pm

Emmet wrote:
Sun Sep 02, 2018 12:27 pm
I've sat on the board of a Zen Center for five years, and have seen at least a glimpse on a microcosmic scale of just how Machiavellian internecine squabbles can be . . .
I knew there was trouble when I saw the teacher slap the attendant, his wife, in the face, at a retreat with Blue Ridge Zen Group.

User avatar
Anders
Posts: 95
Joined: Tue Dec 05, 2017 8:28 pm

Re: Importance of lineage/ what is transmitted / etc etc

Post by Anders » Sun Sep 02, 2018 5:41 pm

desert_woodworker wrote:
Sat Sep 01, 2018 11:46 pm
Yet, ...I think it's fine to take this far back into the past of Humans:

In the far distant past, "we" lived in small groups. Someone was the "Elder" of the group, and held the wisdom, history, and ways of the group or clan. Some of this is/was intangible. Before the advent of writing and even presumably before the advent of much spoken language, the only way to pass things "down" (along... ) was (to be sure), "mind-to-mind". It's got to go to someone, lest it be lost.

This still operates despite Language and despite Writing, which are not great pollutions after all.
Basically this. Something often lost in talk about legitimisation, power structures, institutions and historicity.

User avatar
fuki
Posts: 1723
Joined: Fri Dec 01, 2017 12:02 am
Location: Zandvoort, The Netherlands

Re: Importance of lineage/ what is transmitted / etc etc

Post by fuki » Sun Sep 02, 2018 6:27 pm

Anders wrote:
Sun Sep 02, 2018 5:41 pm
desert_woodworker wrote:
Sat Sep 01, 2018 11:46 pm
Yet, ...I think it's fine to take this far back into the past of Humans:

In the far distant past, "we" lived in small groups. Someone was the "Elder" of the group, and held the wisdom, history, and ways of the group or clan. Some of this is/was intangible. Before the advent of writing and even presumably before the advent of much spoken language, the only way to pass things "down" (along... ) was (to be sure), "mind-to-mind". It's got to go to someone, lest it be lost.

This still operates despite Language and despite Writing, which are not great pollutions after all.
Basically this. Something often lost in talk about legitimisation, power structures, institutions and historicity.
On the "other" hand, wisdom is "transmitted" all of the time, from my father, from teachers, from a woman passing by and never seen again, I could name at least two dozen of "transformative miracles" witnessed/experienced. This is just universal functioning/life (or whatever you want to call it) but when there are individuals who have labels als transmitted masters or lineages holders it is potentially a recipe for disaster and deceit (as Spike and many others have experienced), There is no person or fixed character who transmits anything, the "transmission" is not the issue, the idea that there are persons who transmit is the great danger. Again not talking in opposition in any means but I often notice we stick our heads in the sands while we all know that organized religion is potentially very dangerous, And lineages and religion itself will one day die out, it is inevitable. Doesn't mean anything is lost or we will have no more "elders" such fear is based on attachment to name and form, the attachment to Buddhism for instance.
40683970_125943048354116_8647770016017547264_n.jpg
40683970_125943048354116_8647770016017547264_n.jpg (71.33 KiB) Viewed 480 times
Religion will end too, again nothing lost, that itself will be the greatest transmission in "history" :)
meldpunt seksueel misbruik in boeddhistische gemeenschappen.
https://meldpuntbg.nl/

IZIhttp://www.zeninstitute.org/en/iziae/main.html

User avatar
fuki
Posts: 1723
Joined: Fri Dec 01, 2017 12:02 am
Location: Zandvoort, The Netherlands

Re: Importance of lineage/ what is transmitted / etc etc

Post by fuki » Sun Sep 02, 2018 6:29 pm

Aka spike wrote:
Sun Sep 02, 2018 5:40 pm
I knew there was trouble when I saw the teacher slap the attendant, his wife, in the face, at a retreat with Blue Ridge Zen Group.
Sure there's a way to bend it into "bodhisattva action" for brainwashed followers believing in fairy tales [/sarcasm]
meldpunt seksueel misbruik in boeddhistische gemeenschappen.
https://meldpuntbg.nl/

IZIhttp://www.zeninstitute.org/en/iziae/main.html

User avatar
desert_woodworker
Posts: 958
Joined: Fri Nov 10, 2017 12:20 am
Location: Southern Arizona desert, USA

Re: Importance of lineage/ what is transmitted / etc etc

Post by desert_woodworker » Mon Sep 03, 2018 1:22 pm

hi, Marcel,
fuki wrote:
Sun Sep 02, 2018 6:27 pm
On the "other" hand, wisdom is "transmitted" all of the time, from my father, from teachers, from a woman passing by and never seen again, I could name at least two dozen of "transformative miracles" witnessed/experienced.
I would not say that true Wisdom is transmitted, although the "wisdom" you speak of, with lower-case "w" might be (I don't know).

However, even then, that kind of lower-case, dictionary-, wisdom, is still actually someone's else's wisdom, even if you think it has become yours (even as it comes from or is exemplified in, as you say, your Dad, or a stranger). I'd say that naming this as even the dictionary- lower-case "wisdom" is itself still also a mistake. That kind of dictionary-wisdom seems to me to come only from one's own experience in the world, not from noting it in others, nor being "taught" it.

In ancient Greek times, the Sophists pretended to be able to teach wisdom and virtue, but other philosophers such as Socrates and Plato criticized them for the folly of doing that, and for trying to mislead others (for money).

(think of this when you hear that something or someone is "sophisticated". :lol: )

True Wisdom is part of our original nature, and can arise after an opening (awakening) when we dwell in emptiness. When original nature is uncovered, then true Wisdom can arise, and not otherwise. So I'd say!

I'd say that what's 'transmitted' from master to student at awakening is not true Wisdom (that's already "a part of the student" and only needed to be uncovered; it is not an accumulated body of something, but a function).

What is transmitted is instead an unambiguous indication of what is the true (No-) Mind (Zen literature calls it a "pointing-at"; Tibetans call it a "pointing-out").

Plus, what I claim also "comes along" -- then and only then -- is something like a record -- in some fashion -- of the ways and temperament of the clan, of the group, of the sangha, of the lineage. That "record" is then in some way accessed by the function of true Wisdom, in seamless accord with events and happenings, spontaneously, just (instantaneously!) as situations arise, or in response to beings.

True Compassion also functions (operates; is expressed) just as -- or just after -- it is informed by true Wisdom. "Just" means JUST.

Anyway, I'd say it's about like that.

--Joe
Last edited by desert_woodworker on Mon Sep 03, 2018 7:34 pm, edited 2 times in total.

User avatar
lindama
Posts: 327
Joined: Wed Nov 01, 2017 2:20 pm
Location: Forestville, CA

Re: Importance of lineage/ what is transmitted / etc etc

Post by lindama » Mon Sep 03, 2018 1:32 pm

right on Joe, I'd add that original nature does not need to be uncovered.... it shows up when it shows up. To limit to some kind of awakening is, well, limited. Father/Mother can indeed rise to the occasion from time to time.

User avatar
desert_woodworker
Posts: 958
Joined: Fri Nov 10, 2017 12:20 am
Location: Southern Arizona desert, USA

Re: Importance of lineage/ what is transmitted / etc etc

Post by desert_woodworker » Mon Sep 03, 2018 1:47 pm

Linda,
lindama wrote:
Mon Sep 03, 2018 1:32 pm
right on Joe, I'd add that original nature does not need to be uncovered.... it shows up when it shows up. To limit to some kind of awakening is, well, limited. Father/Mother can indeed rise to the occasion from time to time.
I think that's right, Linda: original nature in Awakening shows up. But one must be susceptible (to this).

And, I'd say that 'awakening' is awakening to one's original nature (and living from it, and from it only, not any longer from delusion). I mean, there is no other kind of awakening (but awakening to original nature). Hence, no "limiting" that I can see (but which you seem to say that you do).

You'll likely find this controversial, but here goes anyway: For many or most (or 100 percent) of us, original nature is not (ever) experienced and lived-from, except after an awakening. And, usually, an awakening does not occur except in the midst of correct and sufficient practice, in the care of an adept master, and (usually) a sangha.

After an awakening fades or is eroded (it seems to happen inevitably and invariably), we may indeed remember and appreciate that original nature has not "left" us, and is just covered-up again. But a memory is not the same as having the full functionality of true Wisdom and true Compassion, while in the midst of emptiness, while "possessed" of no-mind, and no self, with body and mind fallen-away, for weeks or months without intermittence.

Or, if it wasn't like that, Linda, then we're still talking about different things. Two ships passing in the night... .

:cry: :?:

--Joe

two_ships_passing.jpg
(Could it be?)
two_ships_passing.jpg (29.31 KiB) Viewed 368 times
Last edited by desert_woodworker on Mon Sep 03, 2018 7:36 pm, edited 2 times in total.
"Ignorance is to be ignorant of one's original mind." - Ma Tsu

"Liberation is awakening to one's original nature." - Ma Tsu

"The World is all that is the case". -Ludwig Wittgenstein

User avatar
fuki
Posts: 1723
Joined: Fri Dec 01, 2017 12:02 am
Location: Zandvoort, The Netherlands

Re: Importance of lineage/ what is transmitted / etc etc

Post by fuki » Mon Sep 03, 2018 3:44 pm

desert_woodworker wrote:
Mon Sep 03, 2018 1:22 pm
Anyway, I'd say it's about like that.

--Joe
Hi Joe.

"Yes"

Hence there's no causal connection between awakening and lineages/religions scripture or so called practise :hatsoff:

Not that it isn't functional for 'suspectible' ones to practise with teachers/sanghas but it's a perversion and indoctrinating to tell (manipulate) others that it's needed to seek a certain individual in a certain religion/path and practise accordingly to the concentration camps social mask. :P

The lower case wisdom or 'objective knowing' is a handy tool to navigate, please don't make me type compassion with a C or wisdom with a W or practise with a P all of the time, it seems you're capable of telling the difference anyhow. :lol:
meldpunt seksueel misbruik in boeddhistische gemeenschappen.
https://meldpuntbg.nl/

IZIhttp://www.zeninstitute.org/en/iziae/main.html

User avatar
desert_woodworker
Posts: 958
Joined: Fri Nov 10, 2017 12:20 am
Location: Southern Arizona desert, USA

Re: Importance of lineage/ what is transmitted / etc etc

Post by desert_woodworker » Mon Sep 03, 2018 6:48 pm

hiya, Mr. Marcel,
fuki wrote:
Mon Sep 03, 2018 3:44 pm
desert_woodworker wrote:
Mon Sep 03, 2018 1:22 pm
Anyway, I'd say it's about like that.
Hi Joe.

"Yes"
Hence there's no causal connection between awakening and lineages/religions scripture or so called practise :hatsoff:
No!, sir; no sir.

NO.

I do not say that.

Teachers in lineages are rather devoted to helping others to awaken. But only if the "others" want to! Feel free to reject everything.

Lineages are the only vehicle(s) that carry this transportation forward: from HERE to HERE (but, from delusion to clarity).

Practice is key.

And cultivation and continued practice of samadhi -- as it develops -- is a large part of that. There, I've said it. The bat or cat is out of the bag... . ;)

Sorry, but the rest of your post seems wild raving to me, and I won't comment. "Concentration camps"?, indeed. Hogwash, Jimbo. Sober-up!, and have a sniff of moistened Creosote Bush.

Are you partying even hardier than we are here on our Holiday-day, Labor Day? Well, Stay off the roads... . Be safe! And keep others safe, thereby, like a Bodhisattva. We'd like to hear from you again in one piece, in your temperate or abstinent condition!, but, "Cheers", anyhow.

:namaste:

--Joe (Tennen) :hatsoff:

ps (better to be an iconoclast after awakening than before; you'd be a "reformer", then, like Master Dogen, or Master Hakuin; strong practice!) _/|\_ -J. And strong practice ALL.

User avatar
desert_woodworker
Posts: 958
Joined: Fri Nov 10, 2017 12:20 am
Location: Southern Arizona desert, USA

Re: Importance of lineage/ what is transmitted / etc etc

Post by desert_woodworker » Mon Sep 03, 2018 7:22 pm

hi, Anders,
Anders wrote:
Sun Sep 02, 2018 5:36 pm
It all basically boils down to a family lineage of awakened masters enacting their embodied wisdom to help their students break through and then mature.

The written part of Zen Buddhism is, to me, "just" a more down-to-earth restatement of classical Mahayana Buddhism. Which is in itself a profound topic of course, but not the quite the heart of the matter.
:bow2: :560: :hatsoff:

Anders, some commentators (not practitioners) would say (and continue to say) that Ch'an/Zen Buddhism is not Buddhism at all. Glad to see that you take it to be otherwise. Dunno, it just tickles me. ;)

--Joe

User avatar
fuki
Posts: 1723
Joined: Fri Dec 01, 2017 12:02 am
Location: Zandvoort, The Netherlands

Re: Importance of lineage/ what is transmitted / etc etc

Post by fuki » Mon Sep 03, 2018 7:50 pm

desert_woodworker wrote:
Mon Sep 03, 2018 6:48 pm
Are you partying even hardier than we are here on our Holiday-day, Labor Day? Well, Stay off the roads... . Be safe! And keep others safe, thereby, like a Bodhisattva. We'd like to hear from you again in one piece, in your temperate or abstinent condition!, but, "Cheers", anyhow.
Partying? Ah no Brother, non-dwelling is bliss, all is revealed as a gift instead of a place to dwell. :111:
meldpunt seksueel misbruik in boeddhistische gemeenschappen.
https://meldpuntbg.nl/

IZIhttp://www.zeninstitute.org/en/iziae/main.html

User avatar
desert_woodworker
Posts: 958
Joined: Fri Nov 10, 2017 12:20 am
Location: Southern Arizona desert, USA

Re: Importance of lineage/ what is transmitted / etc etc

Post by desert_woodworker » Mon Sep 03, 2018 8:22 pm

fuki wrote:
Mon Sep 03, 2018 7:50 pm
desert_woodworker wrote:
Mon Sep 03, 2018 6:48 pm
Are you partying even hardier than we are here on our Holiday-day, Labor Day? Well, Stay off the roads... . Be safe! And keep others safe, thereby, like a Bodhisattva. We'd like to hear from you again in one piece, in your temperate or abstinent condition!, but, "Cheers", anyhow.
Partying? Ah no Brother, non-dwelling is bliss, all is revealed as a gift instead of a place to dwell. :111:
All's swell that ends swell. Or sumpthing like that. ;)

--Joe
"Ignorance is to be ignorant of one's original mind." - Ma Tsu

"Liberation is awakening to one's original nature." - Ma Tsu

"The World is all that is the case". -Ludwig Wittgenstein

User avatar
Anders
Posts: 95
Joined: Tue Dec 05, 2017 8:28 pm

Re: Importance of lineage/ what is transmitted / etc etc

Post by Anders » Tue Sep 04, 2018 8:28 am

fuki wrote:
Mon Sep 03, 2018 3:44 pm
Not that it isn't functional for 'suspectible' ones to practise with teachers/sanghas but it's a perversion and indoctrinating to tell (manipulate) others that it's needed to seek a certain individual in a certain religion/path and practise accordingly to the concentration camps social mask. :P
I can't agree with the spirit of this. It may be technically correct, but this advice can't sit next to the basic common sense advice that it is by and large an excellent suggestion to practice with a teacher and sangha, without the whole of the picture ending up looking distorted and dissonant. The language is just too toxic for me to recognise it as kind and pragmatic.

User avatar
fuki
Posts: 1723
Joined: Fri Dec 01, 2017 12:02 am
Location: Zandvoort, The Netherlands

Re: Importance of lineage/ what is transmitted / etc etc

Post by fuki » Tue Sep 04, 2018 1:33 pm

Anders wrote:
Tue Sep 04, 2018 8:28 am
I can't agree with the spirit of this. It may be technically correct, but this advice can't sit next to the basic common sense advice that it is by and large an excellent suggestion to practice with a teacher and sangha, without the whole of the picture ending up looking distorted and dissonant. The language is just too toxic for me to recognise it as kind and pragmatic.
To my mind it can sit next/with Anders, since I'm not speaking in opposition to practising with a sangha and teacher. I am sometimes just concerned when I hear/see practisioners quote "not practising according to personal preferences etc" and go through all kinds of physical and psychological contractions, for me it's perfectly allright and common sense to not wear the "Buddhist social mask" when it comes to hurting one's knees for hours, or certain rituals or studying texts or mantra practise or whatever it is which is not suited or needed according to the individual, and no not all teacher always know "what's best" (or needed) for the student, they are also imperfect. Apologies for the toxic language.

ps I know someone who during chanting the metta sutra "dropped body and mind" and directly "knew" that nothing ever happened and nothing had ever arisen, so what? I'm not asserting or negating, advicing anything, this topic came up and according to me "lineages" are often not common sense, in fact it often enhances the practisoners presumed identity, it's ironic. For the record we are practising together (sangha) and I'd never advice against doing so, I just see a lot of BS too, and people who stick with it yet there cognitive dissonance doesn't ring a bell because they believe in another mans idea that it is only due to practising according to personal preferences so just go through hours of pain.
meldpunt seksueel misbruik in boeddhistische gemeenschappen.
https://meldpuntbg.nl/

IZIhttp://www.zeninstitute.org/en/iziae/main.html

Post Reply